Tag Archives: Calgary Police

The Fruit Loop in 1982

Calgary’s Gay Prostitution Stroll for many years was centred around the Lougheed House on 13th Avenue SW between 6th and 7th streets. Colloquially it was known in the gay community as “the Fruit Loop.” Trolling cars would circle the block around the Lougheed House, in a clockwise direction, due to 6th being a one-way street. In 1982 local residents who lived in apartment towers facing the Fruit Loop petitioned Calgary Police to have the stroll removed. The petition received 547 signature from area residents (165 signatures from the Birkenshaw Apartment, 166 from Hull Estates, 68 from Park 300, and 148 from Evergreen Apartments).

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Driving route on the Fruit Loop: Source Google Maps

The apartment building owners alleged they were losing renters due to the distasteful activity and the ensuing noise and traffic that the prostitutes were making. Occasionally the sex workers would even get into the buildings and rest in the apartment lobbies’ overstuffed chairs.

Inspector Bill Brink who was in charge of policing the Beltline noted that male prostitutes had been moving west from Central Memorial Park, due to increased lighting there, as well as stepped-up enforcement. He also claimed that the gay bar, the Parkside Continental at 1302 4th St. SW, was one of the drawing cards for male prostitution in the area.

The Calgary Herald on June 21st, 1982 reported that police had enhanced enforcement efforts at the Fruit Loop. Noting enforcement difficulties, Inspector Frank Mitchell reported that male prostitutes were harder to spot than female prostitutes. He said, “if there are five men walking down the street, two may be homosexual, one may be a homosexual prostitute and two may be going to the library. It’s very difficult to assess.”

Later that week at a Police Commission Meeting, the petitioners brought forth their complaint. Police Chief Brian Sawyer, said the Calgary police force was sympathetic but helpless. He recommended that citizens write to their Members of Parliament, to lobby for laws to help police deal with prostitution.

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Image source: The Calgary Herald: July 21, 1982, page B1.

The Beltline NIMBYers were not happy with that response. One woman invited the Police Chief to spend a night in her apartment to assess for himself the magnitude of the issue. Another man thought that the male prostitutes could be moved as Police had done with the female prostitution stroll. The manager of the Evergreen Estates told the commission: “I don’t think the police’s hands are tied. They can do something about the commotion. We’re talking about commotion, noise, and disturbance.  [These] young guys are howling and hooting at the moon.”

Inspector Bill Brink incidentally was the police representative on the first gay community/police liaison committee (he also notoriously had busted Club Carousel years earlier on liquor charges, and was hostile to the activist side of the gay community).  The gay members of the committee agreed to help the police relocate the Fruit Loop to 10th Avenue SW.  The compliant committee then had cards printed which they hand-delivered to the stroll’s sex workers asking them to relocate. Although it was a polite initiative, it proved ineffective.

Finally, one wonders, is it a coincidence the Fruit Loop was across from the Ranchmen’s Club, one of Calgary’s then last remaining exclusive (men-only) private members clubs?

{KA}

The Calgary Police Archives

The police and the gay community have had a conflicted past across North America for most of the 20th Century. We see this former reality resonating in 2016 as the LGBTQ community debated how police participated in Pride Parades across Canada.

Locally, the Calgary Police have been in the news due to a recently released, unflattering, 2013 internal audit of workplace culture. The Police are one of many state institutions that are grappling with societal change, and increasingly, with reconciliation for prior stigmatization of the LGBTQ community.

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A research trip to Police HQ, one week after the Orlando shooting. We were surprised to see the Pride Flag flying at half mast…

A positive development, amidst this troubling news, is that the Calgary Police archives staff have been assisting the Calgary Gay History Project: combing through files looking for references to their relationship with the LGBTQ community in previous decades. The material is far from flattering.

Some samples:

In May 1946, Constable F.C. Shipley was awarded an entry in the merit book and an accelerated promotion due to catching Alfred V. Andrew in an act of gross indecency with another man at the Alexandra Hotel.  Andrew subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months hard labour.

In November 1960, the Calgary Police fired one of their own employees, Charles Pippard, because, “it would appear that Pippard suffers from homosexual tendencies, but nothing can be uncovered to confirm this.”

And in Sept 1963, an editorial in the Police’s internal magazine, Patrol, gleefully announced:

Hats off to those members of the Detective Division whose resourceful and perseverance, coupled with a new and revolutionary scientific aid to criminal investigations, closed circuit television, were successful in exposing and subsequently convicting a group of men practicing acts of gross indecency in a public washroom.

The hue and cry that heralded the use of these so called ‘Big Brother tactis’ [sic] by the force, displayed as usual a lack of awareness and understanding of this dangerous trend which prompted the use of this device.

Homosexuality and the perversion it breeds is a social problem that is always with is. When, however, such perverts meet and practice various acts of indecency in any place to which the public have access, then there is no other course open to the Police than to use every means at their disposal to safeguard innocent citizens from this type of environment and ensure that these establishments are protected from such defilement.

It is unfortunate that to gain the evidence required to subject several innocent and unsuspecting citizens using the toilets in question, to the scrutiny of television cameras while engaged in a most fundamental act of nature.  That, it has been claimed, was a gross invasion of privacy.  Surely we are not such prudes that in the interests of public decency and morality, we cannot accept a little humiliation of this kind and in doing so perhaps prevent a child or young person from becoming the victim of the insatiable lust of some of these mentally sick individuals.

It is important that society-at-large comes to terms with our LGBTQ past, and stares at it unflinchingly, to prepare a space for reconciliation.  I thank the Calgary Police for opening up its history to the Project and allowing itself to be stared at.

{KA}

Pride and Pre-justice (a recap)

{Check out our free 2016 Pride Events: Aug 31 Panel Discussion, Sept 1 & 3 Gay History Walks, Sept 4 Pride Festival History Booth – Kevin}

Proclaiming your gay pride in Calgary used to be hard. In previous years, homophobia and transphobia were actively practiced in our city. We had both an unsympathetic society and an unjust state. Here is the speediest of recaps.

1980 – Calgary gay activists host a national gay rights conference that ends in a controversial rally and march. Then Mayor Ross Alger and police Chief, Brian Sawyer are decidedly unsupportive.

1981 – Newly elected Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein proclaims he is a mayor for everyone including the gay community, then quickly distances himself from gays due to public outcry.

1987 –  Delegates from many of Calgary’s gay and lesbian organizations come together to form an umbrella organization called Project Pride Calgary. Inspired by the Stonewall Riots, they produce a Pride festival locally to celebrate community. Their first festival in 1988 includes a concert, workshops, a dance, and a family picnic – but no public rally or protest.

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1990 Pride Rally Poster

1990 – the Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild (CLAGPAG), one of the Project Pride partners, organizes the first political rally, which they internally described as a media stunt. 140 people muster at the Old Y to pick up lone ranger masks, and then gather at the Boer War Statue in Central Memorial Park.

1991 – CLAGPAG more ambitiously, holds its first Pride Parade. 400 people at City Hall cheer gay Member of Parliament Svend Robinson, who gives an inspiring speech despite gloomy weather and even gloomier protesters, three of whom were arrested. 1991 is also the year Mayor Al Duerr famously proclaims gay pride week in Calgary but then denies future proclamations due to public pressure.

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Svend Robinson, June 16, 1991.  Photo: Luke Shwart

1998 – Vriend vs. Alberta. The Supreme Court decision forces Alberta to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for human rights discrimination. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein blusters, and stirs up his socially conservative base, but in the end capitulates.

2001 – Former Conservative Prime Minister, Joe Clark, agrees to be Calgary’s Pride Parade Marshall and solicits scorn from social conservatives everywhere, including the Westboro Baptist Church. “We might have a big crowd preaching against those fags up there Sunday,” Reverend Fred Phelps says from Topeka, Kansas but then fails to show up.

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Joe Clark, June 10, 2001.  Photo: Grant Neufeld

2002- Calgary Police raid Goliath’s Sauna, and charge operators and found-ins under antiquated bawdy house laws, provoking legal challenges from the gay community. (The Crown eventually drops charges in 2005 citing changing community standards)

2005 – Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Canada. The Alberta Government remains officially opposed and threatens to invoke the notwithstanding clause to negate the law in Alberta, but doesn’t.

2006 – Parade marchers tussle with protestors carrying signs “no pride in sodomy.” One marcher is arrested.  Police Chief Jack Beaton says publicly he disapproves of the protestors.

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2009 Pride Board Members, Dallas Barnes & Sam Casselman.  Photo: Kevin Allen

2009 – Pride Calgary moves the parade from June to the September long weekend, and transitions from a grassroots collective to an incorporated non-profit society.

2011 – Mayor Naheed Nenshi is the first Calgary mayor to march in our Pride Parade, and is parade marshall that year, making national headlines.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi, September 4, 2011 Photo: Todd Korol, The Globe and Mail

2016 – Protestors are hard to find and politicians are seemingly everywhere – it has been an amazing journey.

(KA}

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